Kalkidan Ella Qualls was born Oct. 29, 2001, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She became part of our family eight years ago, and it was our great joy and honor to love her. On the morning of Dec. 27, she and our parents were driving to Montana for a holiday visit with friends when they were involved in an automobile accident. Kalkidan passed away instantly in the collision. She was 13 years old.
Kalkidan believed that spice was the spice of life. She loved cooking, and often made dishes so hot that the rest of the family’s eyes would water from the spicy fumes in the kitchen. She especially loved Sriracha sauce and the Ethiopian spice berbere, which she went through so quickly that we stocked it in mason jars. It was her dream to one day open a restaurant called Kalkidan’s Your-Mouth-On-Fire Cuisine.
Kalkidan was incredibly competitive, but worked hard at both winning and losing graciously. She took great pride in besting her older brother at her favorite board game on Christmas Day. She loved playing sports and often talked about becoming a college basketball player. She bemoaned her height, but anticipated becoming the first WNBA player under 5 feet tall.
At school and in sports, she was often one of the first to befriend new students. She could tell when someone felt like an outsider and reached out with no hesitation. She brought enthusiasm and energy to everything she did.
In the multitude of emails, cards and messages we have received from friends and family who mourn with us, the same words to describe her keep appearing: vivacious, determined, inspiring, high-spirited, beautiful, stubborn, spunky, athletic, sweet. These words can’t describe the richness of her soul, but they give a glimpse of who she was, and who she was growing to become.
Jesus Christ is the firm foundation of our family. Kalkidan loved him, and we take comfort that one moment she was on a road trip with her mom and dad and the next she was in the arms of Jesus. We believe that God writes a beautiful story, and it was our privilege that God chose to entwine her life story with ours. We grieve that her life was so short, but we are blessed she became our daughter and sister.
Kalkidan was preceded in death by her Ethiopian mother and father.
She is survived by her parents, Russell and Lisa Qualls; and her siblings, Hannah, Mary Kate, Noah (Katie), Samuel, Isaiah, Annarose, Beza, Claire, Ebenezer and Wogauyu; and her Ethiopian sister, Fikirte. She will also be remembered by her four grandparents and her aunts, uncles, cousins and countless dear friends, as well as the thousands of people who were influenced by her story.
A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at the Moscow Church of the Nazarene. All are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to REACH Ministries via the Kalkidan Memorial Fund at http://reachministries.org/blog/kalkidan.